Mantra is a syllable, word or phrase endowed with special power, usually drawn from ancient scriptures.
According to Patanjali, Mantra meaning is the designation of supreme consciousness in form of sound. Where Yantra is the psychic figure and Mandala is the human symbol, like the statue of God.
According to Tantra, Mantra is the sound form of Deity, which is the power of consciousness that is the main propulsion toward realization. Each deity has a specific mantra, which is its mental form. Deities have single seed syllables or bija mantras, like Om for Tara and an extended mantras, which may contain the name of deity along with various words. Each deity also has various Vedic & puranic verses or mantras that can be used in its worship.
Mantra yoga is a type of yoga that uses mantras to awaken the Self and deepen the meditative aspects of a physical yoga practice. Mantra yoga is an exact science that is meant to engage the mind by focusing on Mantra Sound, and a number of repetitions. Repetition of the mantras is a means to get closer to the divinity within, and it creates positive vibrations that benefit both the one who chants and the one who listens.
Mantra yoga may also be referred to as Japa yoga. Japa is a Sanskrit word for the act of repeating mantras. Working with sound whether as mantra, music or vibration is central to the energization of the Mind. According to Vedas, at the beginning of the universe, the only thing that exists is a word or a vibration that is OM.
Speech has several levels of manifestation, which are the keys to the nature & function of Divine within and the movements of our own minds and hearts.. Vedas recognizes 4 levels of speech,
Vaikhari refers to the course or literal level of speech. Most of the time our minds stay on this level of audible speech and conventional meanings enter into Madhyama, which literally means Middle level, when we think deeply about something, when we ponder or wonder about things. Most artistic thinking comes from this level, which reveals the beauty of form & has a creative force. The third level, Pashyanti or the illumined word, occurs when we perceive the underlying cosmic truth or archetype behind the object or event. Its nature is light or revelation & it reveals the seed forces at work in the universe. We only reach this level through deep meditation.
The fourth level is Para, the level of pure silence wherein meaning is so full & complete that it cannot be broke down into words. This is the level of pure consciousness, the Divine Word Of Silence: “I am All”.
The power of speech must be brought down to the base of the spine to allow the energy of consciousness to ascend upward as Kundalini to awaken our higher potentials. Before our consciousness ascends our energy must first descend and penetrates to the depths of our being. To bring the power of speech inward & down is the work of Mantra Yoga. To bring speech downward, the breath along with the sound current of the mind must be brought down to the corresponding center of the subtle body.
Guidelines for Mantra Chanting
- Chant the mantra with a sattvic, or pure, mind, which implies a peaceful intention and a calm frame of mind.
- Follow a sattvic lifestyle, including a vegetarian diet. Refrain from negative emotions, take time in solitude and make your life a form of service.
- Honor the Divine power connected to the mantra before starting your practice, whether through mental acknowledgment, some form of ritual, or through a representative form like a statue or picture.
- Get the knowledge or Mantra diksha from a Guru for the better effect of mantra on Mind.
- Make sure to pronounce the mantra properly. For this you may need to learn the basic rules of pronouncing the Sanskrit alphabet.
- Initially chant the mantra out loud to gain a sense of its sound pattern. Then chant it softly on the breath to connect it to the prana. But most chanting will be mental, while you are silent outwardly.
- Chant the mantra in a regular manner at a certain time of day for a certain number of times.
- For counting mantras, it is best to use a mala, or rosary, of 108 beads.
Benefits Of Mantra Yoga
- The basic and general ways of improving concentration
- Improve awareness and develops a positive attitude.
- Provides a sense of discipline if practice regularly.
- Regular and Consistence practice of Mantra Japa, open the deeper realm of consciousness and helps to attain the state of bliss.